Valentino Rossi To Stay With Yamaha For Two More Years
Yamaha's MotoGP line up is once again complete. The announcement that has been brewing for the past month or so was finally made officially at Yamaha's annual gala at the Monterey Aquarium: Valentino Rossi has signed a new contract with Yamaha, and will stay with the team for the 2009 and 2010 MotoGP seasons. The announcement was hardly a surprise, as both Rossi and Yamaha had stated publicly that they were close to an agreement, and just before the summer break is about to start, they got it done.
The move ends speculation that Rossi would move to Ducati - something that will disappoint legions of Ducati fans, Rossi fans and Italians, who had hoped to see the Italian win on an Italian bike. But for Rossi, the deciding factor was the influence he has inside Yamaha. The way that the Japanese factory responded when Rossi demanded more support at the end of a disastrous 2007 campaign is precisely the reason that Valentino Rossi is staying with Yamaha. Yamaha are almost certainly the only manufacturer that would allow a rider to have so much control. At Ducati, and especially at Honda, the engineering department makes the decisions about the bikes, and the job of the riders is to get on and ride it. If you get lucky and sign a rider of prodigious talent, as Ducati have with Casey Stoner, that can work out. But as Marco Melandri's troubles show, it can also go horribly wrong.
Unsurprisingly, Rossi did have other options. The Doctor did not say just how serious they were - the most entertaining of which was Kawasaki's big money bid for his services - but signing with Yamaha made it perfectly clear where his priorities lie. Rossi wants to have input into the bike, and the way the team is run, and that's only possible at Yamaha.
Rossi's signing opens up the possibility of taking a few more records, especially from Giacomo Agostini, the rider with the most championships and most wins in motorcycle grand prix racing. But both records will be difficult, especially if Casey Stoner continues to be the incredible force he has been since joining Ducati. If Rossi wins the championship this year, and the two years that follow, he will equal Agostini's record of 8 premier class championships. And if he wins 31 (or 32, depending on whether you count the Formula 750 class) more races, then he will equal Ago's record of 122 (or 123) overall wins in all grand prix classes. But that's a pretty high strike rate. Rossi only has 43 races to achieve that feat. A win rate of 72% is pretty steep, even for The Doctor. And especially when he is facing such formidable competition as Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo